Less than a week after an angry mob of insurrectionists almost took over the nation’s Capitol, the beleaguered Capitol Police started requiring lawmakers to pass through metal detectors on their way to the floor of the House of Representatives.
At least they tried.
So loud were the cries from some members of Congress you’d have thought they had been thrown in jail.
Arkansas’ own 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers complained to a CNN reporter, “I was physically restrained!” A pool reporter said Womack yelled at police, “You are creating a problem you do not understand the ramifications of.”
A retired Army National Guard colonel, Womack surely knew the police officers were carrying out orders, but he vented his frustrations at them anyway. Who can blame him? Only a week earlier he was hiding from a mob looking for officials on whom they could vent.
NPR reported that another representative, Rodney Davis of Illinois, was heard shouting that the checks were “horses---.” Later he changed the description to “bulls---” in a complaint to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
The Washington Post reported that Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., said in a tweet the Capitol Police were treating lawmakers “like criminals.”
A few lawmakers, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, openly defied the police, going around the metal detectors while proclaiming, “You can’t stop me!”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, contended that the metal detectors violated his constitutional rights.
New Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., who has bragged about carrying her Glock on the grounds of the Capitol, refused a search of her handbag. During the riot Boebert tweeted the location of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her pre-riot tour of the Capitol is being investigated as a possible reconnaissance mission.
Congressmen are already a privileged class. Unlike the rest of us, they don’t have to go through metal detectors to get into the Capitol, and they can keep firearms in their offices. It’s clear that they don’t even trust each other now.
Granted, those who entered the Capitol by force on Jan. 6 wouldn’t have been stopped by metal detectors.
I wonder if those indignant lawmakers are allowed to bypass the metal detectors and X-ray lines at the airports on their way to and from Washington. Since 9-11 the Transportation Security Administration has surely violated the constitutional rights of millions of travelers.
I know I’ve lost four pocketknives to TSA employees, who suspected somehow that a device with a 1-inch blade, a fingernail file and a tiny pair of scissors could be dangerous in the hands (or carryon bag) of a 70-year-old. Surely my constitutional right to bear arms was violated.
OK, a utility pocketknife isn’t really in the same class as a Glock, and the one I have now has a knife that won’t cut paper. But the scissors will.
I lost one of those on the way to Washington, where our granddaughter was to lead us on a Capitol tour. I might have lost it then if not at the airport.
Traveling has become such a hassle that a few years ago, I bought Global Entry Cards, which required an extensive background check. My thinking was that the so-called GOES cards, which include TSA pre-check, would reduce our airport time in line.
They have, but we must go through the metal detectors and X-ray machines. We just don’t have to take off our shoes and belts.
Nevertheless, I’ve often resented, like those Congressmen, being treated like a criminal whose constitutional rights were being trampled. And I’ve grumbled a bit to those running the lines, but I know they’re doing their jobs as required.
Unfortunately, this focus on security has spread across much of this free nation.
We have to go through metal detectors to attend a basketball game. We can carry only bags of a certain size into a football or basketball game, and they must be clear plastic. Getting into a concert can take longer than the concert.
Some folks can carry an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to a rally at a state Capitol, but don’t even think of taking an umbrella to a baseball game.
That’s the America we live in today. Maybe members of Congress are exempt from some of that, but the rest of us aren’t.
The more our elected public officials, from the president on down, inspire and incite homegrown terrorists to try to overturn the results of a free and fair democratic election, the more security we’re going to need, the more “freedom” we’re going to be asked to give up.
Speaker Pelosi responded to the flak by asking the House of Representatives to adopt fines against members who refuse to go through the metal detectors – $5,000 for a first offense, $10,000 for a second offense.
Wednesday’s inauguration of a new president and vice president, normally a grand celebration, will take place in the midst of an armed camp, with only a relative few privileged people allowed to attend – provided they’re willing to go through metal detectors and don’t try to sneak a Glock or pocketknife in.